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For the hamlet in South East England, see Sleaford, Hampshire.
—  Town  —
St Denys' Church
St Denys' Church
Sleaford is located in Lincolnshire
 Sleaford shown within Lincolnshire
Population 17,671 
Ethnicity 93.57% White British
4.04% White Other
1.09% Asian or Asian British
0.26% Black or Black British
0.05% Arab
0.12% Other
0.87% Mixed Race (2011 est.)[1]
OS grid reference TF064455
   – London 100 mi (160 km)  S
District North Kesteven
Shire county Lincolnshire
Region East Midlands
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town SLEAFORD
Postcode district NG34
Dialling code 01529
Police Lincolnshire
Fire Lincolnshire
Ambulance East Midlands
EU Parliament East Midlands
UK Parliament Sleaford and North Hykeham
List of places

Coordinates: 52°59′46″N 0°24′47″W / 52.996°N 0.413°W / 52.996; -0.413

Sleaford is a market town and civil parish in the North Kesteven district of Lincolnshire, a non-metropolitan county in the East Midlands of England. It is on the edge of the fertile Fenlands, approximately 11 miles (18 km) north-east from Grantham, 16 miles (26 km) west from Boston, and 17 miles (27 km) south from the city and county town of Lincoln. With an estimated resident population of 17,671 at the time of the 2011 Census, the town is the largest single settlement in North Kesteven, and makes up roughly 15% of its total population. Bypassed by the A17 and the A15, Sleaford's road transport links connect it directly with Lincoln, Newark, Peterborough and King's Lynn; its railway station lies on the Nottingham to Skegness (via Grantham) and Peterborough to Lincoln lines.

The first settlement in the Sleaford area formed during the Iron Age, around the crossing of a prehistoric track with the River Slea. It operated as a tribal centre and home to a mint for the Corieltauvi during the 1st centuries BC and AD. Evidence of Roman and Anglo-Saxon settlement has been uncovered and, by the late Saxon period, it appears that the town was a local economic and jurisdictional centre, hosting a court and market. During the medieval period, records differentiate between Old and New Sleaford, the latter emerging in the areas around the present day market place and church; a castle constructed in the 12th century and the town was frequented by the major land-owners, the Bishops of Lincoln. Granted the right to hold a market in the mid-12th century, New Sleaford developed into a market town and became locally important in the wool trade, while Old Sleaford declined in the medieval period.

From the 16th century, the Carre family, who owned much of the land in and around Sleaford, operated tight control over the town and it grew little in the early modern period. The enclosure of the town's fields in 1794, coincided with the canalisation of the Slea and heralded in the first steps towards modern industry; known as the Sleaford Navigation, the latter brought economic growth to the town until it was superseded by the railways in the mid-1850s. In the 20th century, the sale of farmland around Sleaford by the 6th Marquess of Bristol, the indebted land-owner, led to the development of large housing estates. The subsequent availability of affordable housing combined with the town's educational facilities and low crime rates to make it an attractive destination for home-buyers. As a result, the town's population underwent the fastest growth of any town in the county during the 1990s.

Sleaford was primarily an agricultural town until the 20th century, supporting a cattle market. Seed companies, such as Hubbard and Phillips, and Sharpes International Seeds were established in the town in the late 19th century, and its rural proximity and railway lines made the town favourable to malting and contributed to the development of the Bass Maltings in 1905. All these industries have declined and, as of 2011, the most common occupations for Sleaford's residents tend to be in wholesale and retail trade, health and social care, public administration and defence and manufacturing. Regeneration of the town centre, meanwhile, has led to the redevelopment of the old industrial areas, including the construction of the National Centre for Craft & Design on one of the old wharves.



Sleaford is the principal market town in the North Kesteven district of Lincolnshire.[2] The civil parish includes the hamlet of Holdingham (to the north east) and the village of Quarrington (to the south east), both of which merge with the town.[3] The County Council's State of the Environment Report (1994) found that roughly three-quarters of Lincolnshire is low-lying, with much of it near sea-level;[4] Sleaford lies approximately 13 miles above sea level and is close to Lincoln Cliff, a Limestone scarp running north–south through Lindsey and Kesteven.[5] The bedrock under the western half of the town belongs to the Great Oolite Group of Jurassic Sandstone, Limestone and Argillaceous rocks formed 165−168 million years ago; Kellaways and Oxford Clay formations, dated to 156−165 million years ago, underlay the eastern half.[6] Alluvium deposits are found along the Slea's course, and Fen sand and gravel are to be found to the east and south of the town.[5][6] The county's agricultural land is generally of "very good" quality; as a result, intensive arable and vegetable farming is predominant and pastoral farming has declined over the course of the 20th century.[7] Sleaford sits on the edge of The Fens, a low-lying region of the East of England which, before drainage from the 17th to the 20th centuries, were marshy and liable to flooding. Their draining has revealed nutrient-rich soils and has enabled 88% of the land to be cultivated for farming, especially arable farming, with most it graded amongst the most productive farmland in the country.[8][9]


According to the Köppen classification, the British Isles experience a maritime climate characterised by relatively cool summers and mild winters. Lincolnshire's position on the east of the Isles generally allows for a sunnier and warmer climate relative to the national average, and it is one of the driest counties in the United Kingdom.[10] Although it may vary depending on altitude and proximity to the coast, the mean average temperature for the East of England is approximately 9 °C to 10.5 °C; the highest temperature recorded in the region was 37.3 °C at Cavendish on 10 August 2003. On average, the region experiences 30 days of rainfall in winter and 25 in summer, with 15 days of thunder and 6–8 days of hail per year; on 25 August 2001, hail the size of golf balls were reported in Sleaford and other parts of central Lincolnshire. Wind tends to affect the north and west of the country more than the East, and Lincolnshire tends to receive no more than 2 days of gale per year (where gale is a gust of wind at >34 knots, sustained for at least 10 minutes). Despite this, tornadoes form more often in the East of England than elsewhere in the country; Sleaford experienced tornadoes in 2006 and 2012, both of which caused damage to property.[11][12][13]



The earliest record of the place-name Sleaford is found in 852, when it is recorded in a charter as Slioford and in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as Sliowaford; in the Domesday Book (1086), the settlement is called Eslaforde and in early 13th century it is recorded as Sliforde.[14] In some 13th century works, such as the Book of Fees (13th century), the name appears as Lafford.[15] It is formed from the two Old English words sliow and ford, which, taken together, mean 'ford over a muddy (or slimy) river'.[14]


An electrum stater of the Corieltauvi, probably struck at Sleaford in the mid-1st century BC. Diameter 17–19 mm.

Evidence of Bronze Age and earlier settlement in the Sleaford area is relatively sparse; the remains of a sword dating from the Bronze Age, found near Billinghay in 1852, being one such example.[16] Other archaeological material from this period has been recovered,[17] and further excavations have shown that there was human activity in the vicinity during the Late Neolithic period and Bronze Age, but that this was not sustained and the evidence does not indicate that there was any settlement there before the late Iron Age.[18][19] The earliest known settlement of the area dates from the late pre-Roman Iron Age and originated where a track running northwards from Bourne crossed the River Slea.[19] Although only sparse pottery evidence has been found for the middle Iron Age period, the remains of a late Iron Age mint, dated to 50 BC–50 AD, has been uncovered south east of the modern town centre, south of a crossing of the River Slea and near Mareham Lane (an area known as Old Sleaford). Its size has led archaeologists to consider that Old Sleaford was probably the largest Corieltauvian settlement during this period and may have been a tribal centre.[19][20][21]

During the Roman occupation of Britain (43 AD–409 AD), the settlement at Sleaford was "extensive and of considerable importance;"[22] it is known that it was occupied continually up to at least the 4th century AD and possibly into the next century as well.[23] Its location along the fen-edge may have made it economically and administratively significant as a centre for managers and owners of large fenland estates.[24] There is also evidence to suggest that a road connected Old Sleaford to Heckington (approximately 4.5 miles (7.2 km) east), where Roman tile kilns have been uncovered, something which may imply the presence of a market at Sleaford.[25] When the first main roads were constructed by the Romans in Britain, Sleaford was bypassed due to it being "less conveniently located" and more "geared to native needs".[26] However, a smaller road, Mareham Lane, which the Romans renewed, ran through Old Sleaford, and southwards along the fen edge, towards Bourne. Where it passed through Old Sleaford, excavations have revealed a large stone-built domestic residence with associated farm buildings, corn-driers, ovens and field systems, all dating from the Roman period, as well as a number of burials.[27] Further Roman remains, including a burial, have been excavated in the town.[28][29]

Middle Ages[edit]

A plan of Sleaford Castle, made in 1872.

The history of Sleaford at the decline of the Roman occupation of Britain is obscure and there is little evidence that the site was settled continuously between then and the Anglo-Saxon period (c. 5th century–1066).[25] Nonetheless, the Saxons did eventually establish themselves in the area and a large cemetery which is estimated to contain up to 600 burials, many showing signs of Pagan burial rights, has been uncovered south of the modern town and dated to the 6th–7th centuries.[25][n 1] It is possible that the Anglo-Saxon inhabitants were foederati, who were first brought over by the Romano-Britains to defend settlements from other Saxon invaders.[31] Excavations of the present-day Market Place have uncovered Anglo-Saxon remains, dating from the 8th–9th centuries AD, which indicate some form of enclosure (possibly a market) with domestic features.[32] The earliest documentary reference to Sleaford is found in a charter from the 9th century AD,[33] but there is little evidence of estate structure there until the late Saxon period.[25] The Slea never ran dry nor froze over and by the 11th century there were a dozen watermills in Sleaford; they, along with those at the nearby villages of Quarrington and the lost hamlet of Millsthorpe, constituted the "most important mill cluster in Lincolnshire".[34]

The Domesday Book (1086) has two entries under Eslaforde; one records land owned by Ramsey Abbey, the other land owned by the Bishop of Lincoln.[33][35] By the 13th century, records show the existence of an "Old Sleaford" at the original Romano-British settlement, and a "New Sleaford", centred around St Denys' Church and the Market Place. Medievalist Maurice Beresford suggested that New Sleaford was constructed in the 12th century by the Bishop as a means of increasing his income from the manor.[35][36][37] However, recent scholarship indicates that it may have been settled before the Norman Conquest (1066) and identifies it as the manor held by the bishop in 1086; possibly holding a court and market, it likely had economic and jurisdictional importance as an estate centre.[38] Whatever the case, Alexander, Bishop of Lincoln (died 1148) built Sleaford Castle and formally granted the town a market; St Denys' Church also dates to the late 12th century.[39][40] In 1258 the town became a borough with 87 burgage plots, and was later home to at least two guilds, which were comparable to those found in developed towns elsewhere.[41] Despite this growth, tight control by the Bishops meant that Sleaford retained a strong tradition of demesne farming and the town's economy was primarily geared to serve them until the 14th century brought a decline in demesne farming.[42][43] The economic initiative then fell more to the burgesses and middle-men, who formed connections with nearby towns, such as Boston, and Sleaford seems to have developed a locally important role in the wool trade.[43][44] By the 14th century, it was the wealthiest settlement in the Flaxwell wapentake.[39] Meanwhile, Old Sleaford, an "insignificant" place since the end of the Roman period, declined and may have been "deserted" by the 16th century.[35][45]

Early modern[edit]

The tomb of Sir Edward Carre (died 1618) in St Denys' Church.

During the late 15th and early 16th centuries, the Husseys were in possession of the manor of Old Sleaford. John Hussey, 1st Baron Hussey of Sleaford (died 1537) was executed for treason due to his part in the Lincolnshire Rising and the manor (as well as his residence at Old Place) reverted to the crown, later being sold to Robert Carre.[46][47] Originally from Northumberland, the Carre (or Carr) family had settled in Sleaford by 1522, when a wool merchant, George Carre, lived there.[48][49] His son, Robert (died 1590), was the purchaser of Hussey's land, and went on to buy the castle and manor of New Sleaford from Edward Clinton, 1st Earl of Lincoln.[50][n 2] His eldest surviving son, Robert (died 1606), founded Carre's Grammar School in 1604, and his youngest son, Edward (died 1618), was created a baronet (see Carr baronets), his own son founding the Sleaford Hospital in 1636.[52] The last male descendent died in 1683 and the heiress, Isabella Carre, married John Hervey (died 1751), later Earl of Bristol, in whose family the estates remained until the 1970s.[53][54] The family had a strong economic influence in the town; in addition to extracting dues from their tenants, the land-owners successfully took leading tradesmen to the Exchequer Court to gain legal force behind their monopoly on charging tolls on market and cattle traders and the driving of animals through the town.[55]

Industry was slow to take hold in Sleaford and, by the second half of the 18th century, Cogglesford Mill was the only corn mill still working in the town.[56] Another old corn mill, at the junction of Westgate and the Castle Causeway, was used for making hemp and supplied the growing rope-making business of the Foster and Hill families.[57] However, as local historian Simon Pawley wrote, "in many respects, things had changed little [by 1783] since the survey of 1692", with few of the buildings or infrastructure being improved.[58] Nevertheless, the last decade of that century saw major changes to both its agriculture and industry. From the Middle Ages, Sleaford had been surrounded by three main open fields: North, West and Sleaford Fields. The enclosure of these open fields came in 1794. With over 90% of the 1,096 acres of open land being owned by Lord Bristol, once he was convinced that the profits of doing so outweighed the costs, this task required little deliberation. Despite the costs of fencing and re-organising the new fields, the system was easier to farm, and cottages could be built closer to fields, while the land-owner could charge more rent owing to the increased profitability of the land; those who lost out were the cottagers, who had previously been able to keep a few animals grazing on the common land at no cost and now could no longer do so.[59] This process also allowed for the land boundaries and pathways to be tidied up; Drove Lane, which ran to Rauceby, was shifted north and straightened, for instance.[60]


Sleaford, as it appeared in 1891. The major roads are marked in red; railways in grey and rivers in blue. Key: (1) Market Place, (2) St Denys' Church, (3) Manor House, (4) Carre's Grammar School, (5) Westholme House, (6) Castle, (7) Station, (8) Old Place, (9) the remains of St Giles's Church, (10) the Union workhouse.[61]

The other change was the canalisation of the River Slea. Canals in England were constructed from the 1760s to make inland trade easier; Sleaford's businessmen were keen to benefit from this and the improved communication they allowed. The Sleaford Navigation, which canalised the Slea, opened in 1794.[60][62] It facilitated the export of agricultural produce to the Midlands, and the import of coal and oil. Mills along the Slea benefited considerably and wharves appeared around Carre Street.[63][64] Between 1829 and 1836 the Navigation's toll rights increased in value by 27 times.[63] The railways emerged in the 19th century as an alternative to canals and arrived at the town in 1857, when a line from Grantham to Sleaford opened.[65][66] It made agricultural trade easier and improved communication,[n 3][67] but led to the decline of the Navigation Company. Income from tolls decreased by 80% between 1858 and 1868; it made its first loss in 1873 and was abandoned in 1878.[68] The town's rural location and transport links meant that the late 19th century saw the rise of two local seed merchants: Hubbard and Phillips, and Charles Sharpe; the former took over the Navigation Wharves, and the latter was trading in the US and Europe by the 1880s.[69] The railway, Sleaford's rural location and its artesian wells, were key factors in the development of the 13-acre Bass & Co. maltings complex (1892–1905).[70]

In the first half of the 19th century, Sleaford's population more than doubled, growing from 1,596 in 1801 to 3,539 in 1851.[71] Coinciding with this is the construction or extension of a range of public buildings, often by the building firm of Charles Kirk and Thomas Parry.[n 4][72][73][74] The Gasworks opened in 1839, fuelling new gas lamps in the town.[75] Meanwhile, Sleaford's Poor Law Union was formed in 1836 to cater for the town and its surrounding 54 parishes; the workhouse was constructed by 1838 and could house 181 inmates.[76] Despite these advances, the slums around Westgate were over-crowded, lacking sanitation and disease-ridden;[n 5] the local administration failed to deal with the matter until 1850, when a report on the town's public health by the General Board of Health heavily criticised the situation and set up a Local Board of Health to undertake public works.[77] By the 1880s, Lord Bristol had allowed for clean water to be pumped into the town, but engineering problems and a reluctance to sell land to house the turbines had delayed the introduction of sewers.[78]


New houses at Quarrington, near Sleaford.

In the inter-war period, Sleaford's population remained static, but the Great Depression in the 1930s caused unemployment to rise.[79] The council-housing developments along Drove Lane proved insufficient to house low-income persons after the slum clearances along Westgate in the 1930s; as a result, Jubilee Grove opened in that decade as the first major council development in the town.[80] In the post-war period, there were new housing developments at St Giles Avenue, the Hoplands, Russell Crescent, Jubilee Grove, and Grantham Road.[81] Parts of the town were also redeveloped: in 1958, the Bristol Arms Arcade opened, the Corn Exchange was demolished in the 1960s, and the Waterside Shopping Precinct opened in 1973, as did Flaxwell House, designed to house a department store, though later becoming the national headquarters for Interflora.[82]

By 1979, the major landowner, Victor Hervey, 6th Marquess of Bristol (died 1985), heavily in debt, had sold off the majority of his estates in Sleaford and Quarrington and the estate's office closed completely in 1989.[54] With much of this land being sold to real-estate developers, the following decades saw the construction of new residential buildings and a considerable population increase.[83] According to a Council report, "the quality of life, low crime rates, relatively low house prices and good-quality education" attracted people to the town.[84] From 1981 to 2011, Sleaford's population rose from 8,000 to 18,000; the growth rate from 1991 to 2001 was the fastest of any town in the county.[85][86] Its infrastructure struggled to cope, especially with increased congestion; two bypasses around the town and a one-way system within it were introduced, a process which Simon Pawley argues accelerated the decline of the High Street.[54] In the early 2000s, the Single Regeneration Budget allowance of £15 million granted to Sleaford improved the town centre and funded the development of the Hub (since 2011, The National Centre for Craft & Design) in the old Navigation wharves area.[87]



For more details on this topic, see Sleaford and North Hykeham

Before 1832, Sleaford was part of the constituency of Lincolnshire, which encompassed the whole county, except for the boroughs of Lincoln, Boston, Grantham and Stamford. In the 1818 election, 49 of the 2,000 people living in New and Old Sleaford and Quarrington qualified to vote. In 1832, the Reform Act widened the franchise and divided Lincolnshire; Sleaford fell into the new South Lincolnshire constituency, which elected two members of parliament.[88] Following the 1867 reforms, the South Lincolnshire constituency's borders were redrawn, but Sleaford continued to fall within it.[89] The franchise was widened by those reforms: roughly 15% (202) of males in Sleaford and Quarrington could vote in 1868.[90] The constituency was abolished in 1885 and Sleaford became its own constituency, which merged with the Grantham seat in 1918. In 1997, Sleaford separated from that constituency and was reorganised into Sleaford and North Hykeham.[91][92]

The member returned in 2010 for the Sleaford and North Hykeham constituency in the United Kingdom Parliament was the Conservative Stephen Phillips MP QC, who replaced Douglas Hogg PC QC.[93][94] Lincolnshire elected its own Member of the European Parliament from 1974 until 1994,[95][96] and then as part of the Lincolnshire and Humberside South constituency until 1999;[97] since then, it has elected members as part of the East Midlands constituency; from 1999, there were six Members of the European Parliament for the East Midlands, but this number was reduced to five in 2009.[98][99]

Local government[edit]

Sleaford is in the North Kesteven District of Lincolnshire (coloured red on this map).

For more details on this topic, see North Kesteven and Local Government in England

Since the early medieval period, New Sleaford has fallen within the Wapentake of Flaxwell, and Old Sleaford in the Wapentake of Ashwardhurn.[100] Wapentakes, called hundreds in some other counties, were an administrative unit at the level between the county and the village; each had a court which dealt with criminal activities, but their significance declined after the medieval period and their powers were abolished by statute during the 19th century.[101] Sleaford Poor Law Union, overseen by a Board of Guardians, was established in 1836 as a result of the Poor Law Amendment Act 1834;[76][102][n 6] the unions were designed to provide relief for the poor.[104] Although the Board of Guardians had powers relating to public health, those powers were consolidated by the Public Health Act 1848, which allowed for dedicated Local Boards of Health to be established; Sleaford's was formed in 1851. Public health was reorganised by the Public Health Act 1872, which established Urban and Rural Sanitary Districts (USD or RSD) to manage public health across England. The Sleaford USD covered New and Old Sleaford, Holdingham and Quarrington, while the Sleaford RSD included all other parishes which were part of the Poor Law Union.[105][106][107] The Local Government Act 1894 converted the Board of Health and USD into the Sleaford Urban District Council and, in 1899, the town became the administrative base of the Kesteven County Council.[106][108][109] A rural district was also formed in 1894, but was abolished in 1931.[110] In 1973, Sleaford Urban District merged with the North and East Kesteven districts to form North Kesteven, a district of Lincolnshire.[111][112]

Sleaford Town Council is the parish-level local government body beneath the district council and is composed of 18 councillors from six wards. As of November 2014, these wards are Castle, Holdingham, Mareham, Navigation, Quarrington, and Westholme.[113] The Chairman of the Town Council is also the Mayor of Sleaford; Cllr Keith Dolby is Mayor for the 2014–15 year and his deputy is Cllr Gary Titmus.[114][115] These six wards are represented on the North Kesteven District Council, although the Mareham and Quarrington wards are merged into the Mareham and Quarrington ward.[116] Sleaford sends one member to the Lincolnshire County Council.[117] Sleaford Town Council has offices on Carre Street and the District Council offices are located in the Lafford Terrace building, Eastgate, which was purchased by the Council in 1934 and has since been altered and extended.[118][119]

Public services[edit]

Policing in Sleaford falls under the responsibility of the Lincolnshire Constabulary, and fire-fighting under the responsibility of the Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue Service. The current Police station is on Boston Road, though older premises existed on Kesteven Street, off Eastgate, and were erected in 1845 and reconstructed in 1912.[120] The Fire Station is based at Church Lane, off Northgate, although plans to move it to new facilities on East Road by 2016 were approved in 2014.[121] East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) operates a station on Kesteven Street; it was announced in 2013 that a new ambulance station was set to open in Sleaford as part of a major reorganisation scheme at the EMAS.[122][123] The United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust provides services at three main hospitals in the county, Pilgrim Hospital (Boston), Grantham and District Hospital, and Lincoln County Hospital, all of which run 24-hour accident and emergency departments as of January 2015.[124]

Officer Training School at RAF Cranwell, near Sleaford.

Although largely undamaged by the First and Second World Wars,[125] Sleaford has close links with the Royal Air Force due its proximity to several RAF bases, including RAF Cranwell and RAF Waddington; these links date back to the earliest development of that branch of the armed forces. Lincolnshire's topography—flat and open countryside—and its location on the east of the country made it ideal for the development of Britain's airfields, constructed in the First World War. Work began on Cranwell in late 1915; it became designated an RAF base in 1918 and the RAF College there opened in 1920 as he world's first air academy.[126][127] The Cranwell branch was a railway linking Sleaford station to the RAF base; it opened in 1917 and was closed in 1956.[128][129] During the Second World War, Lincolnshire was "the most significant location for bomber command" and Rauceby Mental Hospital, south-west of Sleaford, was requisitioned by the RAF and served as a specialist burns unit, with plastic surgeon Archibald McIndoe regularly visiting the hospital.[126]

Public utilities[edit]

Mains water and sewerage services are provided by Anglian Water, a former nationalised industry and natural monopoly, privatised in 1989 and regulated by the Water Services Regulation Authority (OFWAT). In 1879, an Act of Parliament was passed to set up a water company for the town; pumping machinery was installed and works constructed in 1880 to allow for a clean water supply to the town. In 1948, the Council took over the company and in 1962 its operation was handed over to the Kesteven Water Board, which was absorbed by the Anglian Water Authority in 1973.[130][131]

Having investigated the matter as early as 1898, Lincoln County Council passed a motion to build electricity works in Sleaford and introduced a Bill to Parliament to that effect, which passed in 1900. The Local Government Board consented and, at the cost of over £6,700, the Council constructed the Electricity Works in the town 1901; they were based at the Electricity Station on Castle Causeway and remained there until nationalisation in 1948.[132] Following nationalisation, electricity was provided by the East Midlands Electricity Board until 1990, when it was privatised; in 1998, East Midlands Electricity, the privately owned predecessor company, was purchased by PowerGen.[133] Following the privatisation of the Electricity Boards, the consumer has a choice of energy supplier. A "virtually carbon neutral" straw-burning power-station at Sleaford was opened in 2013; capable of supplying electricity to 65,000 homes, it is powered by burning straw bales sourced from farms within a 50-mile radius of the town. Although most of the electricity generated is fed into the National Grid, the facility provides free heat to public buildings in Sleaford.[134]

Natural Gas was supplied by British Gas, which was privatised in 1986, and consumers now have a choice of suppliers; distribution of gas and electricity is the responsibility of the National Grid. The energy markets are regulated by the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (OFGEM). The Sleaford Gas Light Company formed in 1838 and the following year, gas lamps were added to the town and a works building was constructed on Eastgate. In 1866, the company was incorporated; in 1895–96, the works were rebuilt and were sufficient to light the town until the company was nationalised in 1948.[135] Gas ceased to be made in Sleaford in the 1960s and, although the original buildings were retained, later extensions were demolished from 1966 to 1968.[136]



Sleaford developed to serve the agricultural communities in the surrounding area and the town maintained a considerable weekly market throughout the 19th century and hosted a Livestock Market on Northgate from 1874 until it closed in 1984.[2][137] A council report published in 2010 found that the public sector was the main employer in Sleaford, along with agriculture and manufacturing. Unemployment was found to be lower than the national average, but so were wages, reflecting the fact that the food processing and agricultural industries are major employers in the town and its proximity.[84] At the 2011 Census, the largest group of working-age persons (those aged 16 to 74) by economic activity are those in full-time employment, who make up 43.8% of this section of Sleaford's population, while an additional 15% are part-time employees and 7.7% are self-employed; 15% of the town's working-age population are retired. 4.2% were unemployed, with 40% of those in long-term unemployment and roughly one third being aged 16 to 24. The largest socio-economic grouping in the town is those working in lower-tier managerial or administrative roles (21.9%), followed by semi-routine (17.8%), routine (15%) and intermediate (12.5%) occupations; no other group comprised 10% or more. In terms of industry, the most common, based on those working in the sector, are wholesale and retail trade (including automotive repairs) at 16.9%, health and social care (13.4%), public administration and defence (13.3%) and manufacturing (10.9%), with no other groups representing 10% or more.[1] An unemployment survey of Lincolnshire in 2014 found that the county experienced a decline in unemployment (based on Jobseekers Allowance claimants) by 29% over the preceding 12 months, while the county's unemployment rate was marginally below the national average.[138]


In 2011 North Kesteven District Council produced a "masterplan" which outlines a strategy to improve Sleaford's infrastructure over a period of 25 years. The town's rapid growth since the 1990s has not correlated with improvements to its infrastructure, and, as well as planning for future residential developments, the masterplan outlined ways of improving the town centre. In particular, the report suggests developing more parking spaces around the centre and revert as much of the one-way system to a two-way system as possible. Additionally, it included a strategy to develop Southern Southgate and turn Money's Yard into a new attraction to link Southgate with the National Centre for Craft and Design.[139] North Kesteven District Council granted planning permission in 2011 for a £56 m project to redevelop the derelict Bass & Co. maltings site, with the aim to covert much of it into residential and retail space, which would create an estimated 500 permanent jobs;[140][141] the plans, which include the construction of a new supermarket near the site, were delayed when the town council opposed to a link road being constructed through part of the recreation ground; in 2014, the District Council served a compulsory purchase order on that land.[142][143] Tesco, who had pledged to invest in a new £20 million store as part of the redevelopment, announced in January 2015 that they would no longer be investing, following a series of financial set-backs to the company.[144]


The Slea running through the town and past the National Centre for Craft & Design.

The A17 road from Newark-on-Trent to King's Lynn passes around Sleaford from Holdingham Roundabout to Kirkby la Thorpe.[145] It previously ran through the town but was bypassed in the 1970s, officially opening in 1975.[146][147] The Holdingham roundabout connects the A17 to the A15 road from Peterborough to Scawby, via Lincoln. The road also ran through Sleaford until 1993, when a bypass around the town was completed.[148][149] Internally, Sleaford comprises three main roads which meet at the market place: Northgate (B1518, leading to Lincoln Road and onto Holdingham Roundabout), Southgate (branching onto Grantham and Lincoln Roads and Mareham Lane; connecting to Boston Road) and Eastgate (B1517, connecting to the A153 and A17 via the Bone Mill Junction). A one-way system was set up in 1994 and creates a circuit around the town centre; traffic may only travel northwards on Southgate, eastwards on Eastgate from Southgate to Carre Street, southwards on Carre Street and then westwards along Boston Road from Carre Street to Southgate.[145][150]

Sleaford is served by north–south and east–west train lines; it is a stop on the Peterborough to Lincoln Line, which continues to Doncaster, and the Poacher Line, from Grantham to Skegness, on which trains continue from Grantham to Nottingham.[151][152] Grantham railway station is roughly 14.8 miles (23.8 km) from Sleaford by road and is two stops away on the Poacher Line; it is a major stop on the express East Coast Main Line rail link to London. Trains running from Grantham to London King's Cross usually take approximately 1 hour 15 minutes.[153][154] The railways arrived at Sleaford in the 19th century. Early proposals to bring a line to Sleaford had failed,[n 7] but in 1852 plans were made to develop the Boston, Sleaford and Midland Counties Railway; an Act of Parliament to that effect was passed in 1853 and a line from Grantham to Sleaford opened in 1857; Boston was connected in 1859, Bourne in 1871 and Ruskington (part of the Great Northern and Great Eastern Joint Railway) in 1882.[65][66]

The River Slea passes through the town and, although no longer navigable, was canalised for much of the 19th century. The first plans to canalise it were drawn up in 1773,[60][156] but they faced opposition from land-owners who feared the process might affect the drainage of fens. Another round of plans were approved by residents in 1791, but it was only with the support of Brownlow Bertie, 5th Duke of Ancaster and Kesteven (died 1809), who owned estates and quarries he hoped would benefit from the trade, that an Act of Parliament passed in 1792, establishing the Sleaford Navigation, which opened two years later.[60][62] However, after falling revenues due to competition from the railways, the company responsible for it closed in 1878. The river, although no longer navigable, passes through the town and runs under Carre Street and Northgate.[68] The Nine Foot Drain, also unnavigable, forks off the Slea just before Northgate.[145]


Historic population figures for Sleaford
Year Sleaford UD[157] Sleaford wards[n 8]
1911 6427
1921 6690
1931 7025
1939 7835
1951 7680
1961 7344
1971 7978[158]
1981 8503[159]
1991 9994[160]
2001 14494[161]
2011 17671[162]

The resident population of Sleaford at the 2011 Census was 17,671, which accounts for roughly 15% of population of the North Kesteven District, and the urban area contained 8,690 houses in 2011.[162][163] The town's population grew by 39% between 1991 and 2001, which was the fastest growth rate of any town in Lincolnshire.[164] The district population is predicted to rise by 29% between 2008 and 2033, compared with a national average of 18%;[164] in 2013, County Councillors approved plans to build 4,500 new homes in Sleaford.[163] A joint planning strategy report by a consortium of local councillors found that "This growth has largely been the result of people moving to the area attracted by the quality of life, low crime rates, relatively low house prices and good-quality education."[84]

The predominant ethnic group in Sleaford is White British, followed by a small minority of White Irish; only 3% of the town's population is made up of any other ethnic group. The 2011 Census revealed that approximately 93.6% of the town's resident population were White British; the second largest ethnic group was White Irish at approximately 3.4%, followed by Asian (including Asian British) at 1.09%; no other ethnic group represented 1% or more of the population. 88.5% of residents were born in England and 4.41% in other parts of the United Kingdom; 4.3% were from EU countries, with 2.5% coming from EU member states which joined after 2001.[1]

In the year from December 2013 to November 2014, 1,289 criminal acts were reported in Sleaford, of which 43.9% were classed as Anti-Social behaviour, making it by far the largest portion of reported crimes.[165] In 2010, recorded crime levels in Sleaford were amongst the lowest in the country and, for the year ending June 2014, the crime rate in the North Kesteven district is the lowest in Lincolnshire at 24.38 crimes per thousand residents.[84][166]



The religious composition of Sleaford is predominantly Christian, although the proportion of Christians in the town's population has declined between the last two censuses. At the 2011 Census, 70.3% of residents were Christian, while 21.8% reported no religion, and 6.6% did not state a religion; no other religious group comprised 1% or more of the resident population.[167] The 2001 Census recorded that 81.6% of Sleaford residents responded that they were Christians, which was nearly ten percentage points higher than the national figure (71.8%); 11.5% of the town's residents claimed to follow no religion and 6% did not state a religion.[168]

In the Compton Census (1676), New Sleaford is listed as having a Conformist population of 576 people, no "Papists", and 6 non-conformists.[169] In the 19th century, it had a sizeable non-conformist population, alongside a large Anglican congregation; at the 1851 Census of Religious Worship, an estimated 2,000 people attended non-conformist places of worship, while an estimated 600-700 people attended Church of England services in the parish.[170] The Wesleyans met in Westgate in the early 19th century; by 1848, the congregation had set up again in Northgate, an area known for its taverns and poor tenements.[171]

Parish and ecclesiastical history[edit]

The nave of St Denys' Church, Sleaford

The ecclesiastical parish of St Denys, Sleaford, encloses the town of Sleaford and hamlet of Holdingham north of the railway line and does not include Quarrington.[172] It falls within the Lafford Deanery, the Lincoln Archdeaconry and the Diocese of Lincoln. The patron is the Bishop of Lincoln and the incumbent vicar is the Rev. Philip Anthony Johnson, who was instituted in 2013.[173][174][175]

The parish church of St Denys dates to the early 12th century, but New Sleaford had a church and priest by the time of the Domesday Book (1086); the vicarage was founded in 1274. During the Commonwealth (1649–1660), the vicar was expelled and replaced by Puritan ministers, the last of whom was removed following the Restoration in 1660 and replaced with an Anglican clergyman.[176][177] In 1616, the vicarage was valued at £8 and in 1872 at £180.[178] Old Sleaford was in the possession of Haverholme Priory at the time of Domesday, and was eventually served by a Vicar; the church was dedicated either to St Giles or to All Saints. At the Dissolution of the Monasteries (1536–1541), the king took over collection of the tithes, eventually leasing them to Thomas Horseman and then selling them to Robert Carre. In the 17th century, the rectory of Quarrington and the vicarage were combined to form the parish of Quarrington with Old Sleaford; the current rector of Quarrington is the Rev. Sandra Benham.[179][180] The parish boundaries of New Sleaford and Quarrington with Old Sleaford were last altered in 1928.[181][182]

The prebendary of New Sleaford (or Lafford) with a seat in the Cathedral of Lincoln existed before 1274 and was in the patronage of the Bishop of Lincoln; Sleaford's tithes were paid to the prebendary and it was valued at £11 19s. 7d. in 1616. After the enclosure of Sleaford's fields, the farm at Holdingham Anna was allotted to the prebendary in place of the tithes. The Prebendal Court of Sleaford had jurisdiction over New and Old Sleaford, as well as Holdingham, for the granting of Administration and Probate.[183][184] Both parishes of New and Old Sleaford fell within the peculiar jurisdiction of the predendary until 1846, when they became part of the Aswardhurn and Lafford Rural Deanery; in 1866, this was restructured and they fell into the Aswardhurn and Lafford No. 2 Rural Deanery, then from 1884, the Lafford No. 2 Rural Deanery, then the Lafford South Rural Deanery from 1910, and since 1968, in the Lafford Rural Deanery.[185]

Places of worship[edit]

United Reformed Church, Southgate

The Anglican parish church is dedicated to St. Denis.[186] The oldest part is the west tower, which dates to the late 12th century, possibly to c. 1180; the broach-spire was built c. 1220 and is one of the oldest in England, though it was rebuilt after being struck by lightning in 1884. The nave dates to the 14th century, the Clerestory to c. 1430, and the North Aisle to 1853. There is a carved medieval rood screen, restored in 1918 by Sir Ninian Comper, and a Communion Rail from Lincoln Cathedral, said to have designed by Sir Christopher Wren.[176][187][188] Services are held at the parish church every Sunday at 08:00 and Holy Communion is held every Sunday at 08:00 GMT and Wednesday at 10:00 GMT.[173][174]

Sleaford has two main non-conformist places of worship: the Sleaford Reformed Church and the Wesleyan Northgate Chapel. Congregationalists can be traced to c. 1776, when they built a meeting house on Hen Lane (later Jermyn Street).[170] A new chapel was constructed on Southgate in 1867−8; in 1972, it became Sleaford Reformed Church and the building was extended in 2007.[189] The Wesleyans first met in the 1790s at the house of Thomas Fawcett (died 1831) on Westgate.[170][n 9] In 1802, they erected a chapel; it was replaced with a new one on Westgate in 1823 and housed the congregation until 1848, when a larger one was built on North Street that building was demolished and a new one replaced it on the same site in 1972.[190][191] A Baptist Chapel also existed in Old Sleaford; built in 1811 to house a congregation of 250, it served the Strict Baptists until possibly the mid-20th century. The premises have since been converted into a house.[192] A Wesleyan Reform Methodist chapel opened in West Banks in 1864, but by 1896 was a Salvation Army hall and, as of 2009, still serves that function.[193]

The Fens were increasingly cultivated after the food shortages of the Napoleonic Wars, prompting migrant Catholic Irish farm-workers to move to the area; by 1879, their numbers had risen high enough that a Roman Catholic missionary, Father Hermann Sabela, began conducting services in the town. In 1881, land in Jermyn Street had been purchased and a Catholic school and chapel were built there; in 1888, Our Lady of Good Counsel Roman Catholic Church, opened beside it, built in brick to the Gothic style by R. Whitbread.[194][195] The incumbent priest is Father Michael John Bell, who was appointed in 2001.[196][197] Mass is held every Sunday at 10:00 GMT, Saturday at 18:00 GMT, Monday−Thursday at 10:15 GMT and Friday at 11:30 GMT.[198]

Members of the Muslim community of Sleaford formed the Sleaford Muslim Community Association and have been congregating in St Deny's Church Hall since the early 2000s. Plans for the building of a prayer hall on Station Road were approved by Lincolnshire County Council in November 2013.[199] Protests against the approval were planned by the English Defence League, but were cancelled.[200][201] Sleaford Spiritualist Church opened in c. 1956; its first wedding was held in 1963.[202] The church is located on Westgate.[203]


Carre's Grammar School; these buildings were constructed in 1834.[204]

Primary education[edit]

Sleaford has four primary schools. In 1726 William Alvey bequeathed land to fund the teaching of children in Sleaford. In 1851, new buildings were constructed to house the school and the master. By 1856, it was being "conducted on the National System" and was named "Alvey's Endowed School".[205] New buildings for the infants' school were constructed in 1888.[206] William Alvey Church of England School is housed in the same buildings, which have been expanded; the school became an Academy in 2012.[207] St Botolph's School is a Church of England Primary School, which opened at its current site in 2002.[208] Church Lane School is housed in buildings constructed in 2002, when the original school house was demolished;[209] in 2013, it had c. 201 children on roll.[210] Our Lady of Good Counsel Roman Catholic School had 155 pupils on roll in 2011.[211]

In 1835, there were eight day schools and three Sunday schools in New Sleaford and two daily schools in Old Sleaford.[212] An Infant School opened in 1855 and was housed in the old Playhouse on Westgate; Wesleyan schools were attached to the chapel on North Street, accommodating up to 200 people.[213] In 1859, Commercial schools were operating in Westgate and Old Sleaford;[214] by the 1870s, a private Classical and Commercial School was run by Edwin Reginald Dibben, which competed with the Grammar School; it continued to operate at least into the 1880s.[215][216][217] Charles Kirk constructed a school and adjoining chapel at Quarrington in 1867, which was extended in the 1960s and 1980s; it became St Botolph's Primary School and the buildings were vacated in 2002, when the school moved to its present site.[218] In 1879, an Art School was established in Duke Street in connection with the Science and Art Department; by 1896, two Weslyan schools and a Catholic school were also in operation.[219]

No. 62 Southgate, Sleaford, built c. 1850 by Charles Kirk and subsequently part of Kesteven and Sleaford High School.[220]

Secondary education[edit]

The town has three secondary schools, each of which were rated "good" standard at their latest Ofsted inspections: Carre's Grammar School (male grammar school), Kesteven and Sleaford High School Selective Academy (female grammar school) and St George's Academy, formerly called St. George's College of Technology, and before that Sleaford Secondary (County) Modern School (mixed non-selective secondary school). The two grammar schools require students to sit the eleven-plus test and achieve a minimum score before applying; providing they fall within the catchment area, applicants are then given priority based on home location in the event of a tie.[221][222] St George's is not selective, but gives priority based on home location in the event of it being over-subscribed.[223]

Carre's Grammar school was founded in 1604 by a bequest of Robert Carre to provide for the education of local boys. Carre granted several local men land in Gedney, making them feoffees; the rents of the tenants formed the means of financing the school. Payments could be late, while the land was not urbanised and thus did not increase in value.[224] The school went into a period of decline in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, effectively closing in 1816; however, a group of trustees purchased land in 1826 and secured funding in 1830 for the construction of new buildings and the school reopened in 1835.[225] Its buildings were extended in the 1900s and from the 1940s to the 1960s.[226][227][228] It became grant-maintained in 1991 and received funding for a new technology and labs block;[229][230] Specialist Sports College status followed in 2003 and Science specialist status in 2009.[231][232] Carre's became an Academy in 2011 and was judged to be at "good" standard by Ofsted in 2013, at which time it had 817 pupils, including the co-educational Sixth Form.[232]

Westholme House, built in 1849 by Charles Kirk in the Gothic style, part of Sleaford Secondary Modern (later St George's Academy) from 1957.[220]

In 1902, Sleaford and Kesteven High School for Girls was established in the architect Charles Kirk's old house on Southgate by a group of local businessmen;[109] managed by a board of nine directors, it was run as a limited company.[233] It was taken over by the Higher Education Committee of the Kesteven County Council in 1918.[234][235] A new school was built on Jermyn Street in the 1950s and 1960s,[236] and playing fields were opened in 1962.[237] Blocks were added in the mid-1990s and 2005.[238][239] Having received specialist arts school status in 2003,[240][241] it became an Academy in 2011 and was judged to be at "good" standard at its Ofsted inspection in 2013, at which time there were 825 pupils on roll, including those in the co-educational Sixth Form.[242]

In response to Sleaford's rising population, Sleaford Council School opened in 1908 on Church Lane.[243][244] New buildings at Westholme were erected in 1957; the Church Lane site closed in 1984 and extensions were made to the Westholme site; the school, then named Sleaford Secondary Modern, was renamed St George's.[245][246] A number of buildings were added in the 1990s and 2000s.[245] The school received Specialist Technology College status in 1994, became grant-maintained and later a foundation school; it converted to an Academy in 2010 and operates a satellite school at Ruskington.[247][248][249] St George's had 2247 pupils on roll in 2012, across both sites and including the Sixth Form; when assessed by Ofsted in that year, was judged to be at "good" standard.[247]

Further education[edit]

The three secondary schools each run Sixth Forms. From 1983, they operated a joint co-educational Joint Sixth Form consortium, allowing students from the schools to pick subjects at any of the Sixth Forms in the consortium.[250] In 2010 the High School withdrew, but St George's and Carre's continued to operate the Joint Sixth Form.[251][252] At the beginning of the academic year 2010/2011, there were 776 pupils in the Joint Sixth Form.[253] Sleaford Library is on Eastgate, opposite the Market Place, and houses a local and family history section and microfiche machine. It was refurbished in 2010, but, as of 2014, was listed by the County Council as "undersized".[254][255]


The National Centre for Craft & Design

Arts and heritage[edit]

The National Centre for Craft & Design attracts c. 90,000 visitors on average each year[256] and houses exhibitions of applied and contemporary art. It is situated in the former Hubbard's Seed Warehouse on the Sleaford Navigation wharf and opened as The Hub in 2003 as part of the Single Regeneration Budget, and was relaunched as the National Centre in 2011 after securing £600,000 Arts Council funding until 2015.[256][257] The Playhouse theatre on Westgate was constructed in 1825 and ran until 1853, before re-opening two years later, only to be sold off in 1856; it was then converted into an infants school and later became a library and offices. In 1994, Sleaford Little Theatre bought it and restored it (completed in 2000), after which it opened to the public.[258][259] The Sleaford Picturedrome opened in 1920 and proved popular, acquiring sound in 1931, an improved screen in 1955 and an additional screen in 1980; however, during the 1980s, there was a downturn in the number of patrons and the building's fabric deteriorated, with the old screen closing in 1984. In 2000, the cinema closed and became a snooker hall and then a nightclub;[260][261] however, due to poor demand, it closed in 2008.[262]

Sleaford Museum Trust was formed in the 1970s to collect and preserve historical artefacts from the town's history; it lacked a permanent home until a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of over £94,000 in December 2013 allowed the trust to establish a museum on Southgate, which is planned to open in January 2015.[263][264] Sleaford and District Civic Trust, was founded in 1972 to "preserve the best features" of the town, including the preservation of historic buildings and green spaces.[265][266]


Sleaford does not have its own radio station, but the main radio stations for the county are BBC Radio Lincolnshire, broadcasting on 94.9 FM and 104.7 FM frequencies, and the commercial station Lincs FM, on 102.2, 96.7 and 97.6 FM. The town does have its own newspapers and has done since the mid-19th century; those currently operating are the Sleaford Standard (founded in 1924),[267] the Sleaford Advertiser (founded in 1980)[268] and the Sleaford Target (founded in 1984).[269] Historically, the Sleaford Gazette operated between 1854 and 1960; the Sleaford Journal operated from at least 1884 until it was incorporated with the Gazette in December 1929,[270] while the Sleaford Telegraph briefly ran from 1888 to 1889 and the Sleaford Guardian was in print for a year from 1945 to 1946.[271]


Sleaford hosts a range of sporting clubs. The non-league football club is Sleaford Town F.C., which was in the United Counties League Premier Division for the 2014–15 season.[272] The club dates from 1920, when a group of enthusiasts from the Sleaford YMCA branch played a friendly match against Ruskington; in 1923, the team formally entered the Ruskington League as the Sleaford Red Triangle FC. In 1927, it became the Sleaford Amateurs FC and in the following decades won several local trophies, culminating in the club winning the Lincoln Amateur Cup in 1952. In 1966, the club moved to the Boston Road Recreation Ground, where facilities for the club were poor.[273] Two years later, the name changed to Sleaford Town FC. Throughout the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s, the club won 15 cups or titles under the management of Brian Rowland (retired 2009). In 2004, the club moved into the United Counties League, which necessitated the move away from the Recreation Ground; purpose-built facilities were completed at Eslaforde Park in 2007 and were owned by Sleaford Sports Association.[273][274]

Additionally, the town's rugby, golf, cricket and bowls clubs have dedicated facilities and the town has a public swimming pool. The clubhouse for Sleaford Rugby FC opened in 1999 and is situated off the A153.[275] Sleaford Golf Club was founded in 1905 and had roughly 100 members the following year, which increased to 193 in 1911. The clubhouse was renovated in 1992 and the original golf course has been altered. In 2014, the club had roughly 600 members.[276][277] The town has a Cricket Club, with grounds at London Road; the earliest record of the club dates to 1803.[278][279] The town is also home to a bowls club, called Bristol Bowls Club (after the Marquesses of Bristol, who owned land in the area).[280] An all-discipline gymnastics club was founded in 1996 and is based on Westgate, close to the town centre.[281] An outdoor lido was opened in 1872 on riverside land previously owned by the Bristol estate but handed over to the community as public baths.[282] Modern indoor facilities were built in the twentieth century and the old lido became Sleaford Leisure Centre; in 2011 the Kesteven District Council received a grant of £2.85 million, which funded the reconstruction of the centre and its gym.[283][284]


In 2007, a group of students at St George's College of Technology (now St George's Academy) began promoting and selling Fairtrade products in their school; in 2008, the school's commitment to the cause was recognised when it was declared a Fairtrade School. Following that, the students, under the guidance of teacher Bob Stoner, formed a group to promote the cause within Sleaford by working with the Town Council, local businesses and organisations.[285][286][287] In April 2010, the group's bid to have the town recognised as a Fairtrade Town was rejected due to a lack of support from business groups.[288] After gathering enough support in the community, a second bid was successful in June 2010.[287]

Historic buildings and architectural history[edit]

The Manor House, Northgate, it is 16th century, with many later additions.

Sleaford's market place is L-shaped, with the Grade I listed Parish Church of St Denys' (described above) on the west-side and in front of it is the War Memorial, unveiled after the First World War. The 15th century vicarage, with an extension of 1861, is to the north of the church, while the north-side of the market place is bounded by 18th century buildings. To the eastern side is a 20th-century set of buildings which replaced the old printworks constructed in 1819 for Charles Milhouse; in 1916, W.K. Morton, the occupiers, left and the works were demolished in 1929. Adjoining them to the east is the Grade II* Sessions House;[289] constructed in H.E. Kendall's Gothic style in 1830 by Charles Kirk, they replaced earlier buildings of 1755 and served as the magistrates court until 2008, after which it became a restaurant and snooker hall. Opposite the court is a fountain, erected in 1874 to the memory of Frederick Hervey, 2nd Marquess of Bristol by his tenants. The southern side of the market place is bounded by Eastgate.[290][291][292][293]

Along Eastgate is the Grade II* Carre's Hospital, built in Gothic by Kendall in the early 19th century; its chapel has a large perpendicular window over-looking a courtyard.[294] Further north is Lafford Terrace, now North Kesteven District Council's offices, which was built in the 1850s by Kirk & Parry; further north is Kingston Terrace of 1857, the Alvey School (c. 1850) and then Cogglesford Mill, sited on the banks of the River Slea, with buildings dating from the 18th century; further still up the road is the Gasworks, which date from 1839 and are built in stone, again in the Gothic style.[295] Off Eastgate is Carre Street, where Navigation House (1838), the former canal office, is situated;[296] further down the road is Money's Tower Mill, built c. 1798 and rebuilt/altered c. 1810; it operated until the miller filed for bankruptcy in 1895; it was converted in 1985 and as of 2014, serves as a café.[297][298] On Southgate is Charles Kirk's Jacobean house, built in c. 1850, it is part of the High School. Further down, at the junction with Boston Road, is the Handley Monument, inspired by the Eleanor crosses, it was erected in memory of Henry Handley, an MP for South Lincolnshire, designed by William Boyle and built in 1850. Lastly, the railway station was built in stone in 1857 and extended with brick in 1882. At the junction of Westgate with Northgate/Southgate is a Jacobean bank (1903), further down the street is the old theatre built in the 19th century and, off the road and on the site of St George's Academy is Westholme House, "an ebullient essay in French 15th century domestic Gothic", constructed c. 1849.[296]

The two old manor houses are still standing. The oldest, which was situated in Old Sleaford, is Old Place; located off Boston Road, it was the home of Lord Hussey and then passed to the Carre family. The present buildings were erected in the 19th century.[299] The Manor House and adjoining Rhodes House, off Northgate, are jointly grade II* listed; a complicated group of buildings, the manor house dates from the 16th century, though with many 19th century Gothic additions and alterations.[204] Also on Northgate is what Sir Nikolaus Pevsner calls the "most remarkable house in the town", which sits between Sessions House and the neo-Baroque Lloyd's Bank (1905), it is late 17th century, baroque and in stone. Many of the buildings along this road are Victorian or earlier; further northwards are the Almshouses, which were rebuilt in 1857 by Charles Kirk in a neo-Gothic style, and the Grammar School, the oldest sections of which date to 1834.[300]

Bass & Co. maltings (1892–1905), now derelict, they make up the largest building on English Heritage's Industrial Heritage at Risk register.[301]

The now ruined Sleaford Castle was constructed some time around 1130 by Bishop Alexander of Lincoln.[302] King John is recorded as having stayed at Sleaford Castle in 1216, while unwell after travelling across The Wash; he moved on to Newark, where he subsequently died.[303] The Castle fell into decline in the Elizabethan era, and a grant of 1604 by a local land-owner refers to the "late fair" castle, implying that it has been taken down by that time.[304] It is now a listed building, but only a small section of wall still stands.[302]

The large Bass & Co. maltings complex, near Mareham Lane, is grade II* listed.[305] The frontage of the buildings span nearly 1,000 feet in length and are made entirely of brick.[306] The architectural historian Sir Nikolaus Pevsner wrote in Buildings of England that "For sheer impressiveness, little in English architecture can equal the scale of this building."[306] It was constructed from 1892 and opened fully in 1905. During the Second World War, production declined and most of the complex fell into disuse; production ceased in 1959. A fire severely damaged the buildings in 1974, though it remained structurally intact. In the 1970s, G.W. Padley (Property) Ltd. bought the site and used it to rear chickens. The buildings were abandoned again in the 1990s, with further damage sustained in a fire in 2014.[307][308]


From shortly after the Norman Conquest down to 1550, the manor of New Sleaford was in the possession of the Bishops of Lincoln, who often stayed at the castle and had close links with the town.[42] During the late 15th and early 16th centuries, Old Sleaford was owned by the Hussey family, whose members include the judge William Hussey (died 1495);[309] his son was John Hussey (died c. 1536), created Baron Hussey of Sleaford, he was lord of the manor and rose to be Chief Butler of England, before being executed for his part in the Lincolnshire Rising.[310] Both his estates and those of the Bishops eventually came into the possession of the Carre family when they were purchased by Robert Carre (died 1590); his younger son Edward (died 1618) was created a baronet.[52] The manors remained in their hands until the male line died out and they were inherited by John Hervey, 1st Earl of Bristol (died 1751), who had married the family's heiress, Isabella Carre.[53] Although absentee land-owners, the Lords Bristol nonetheless maintained close links with the town and their connection is witnessed in local place names, including Jermyn Street (named after the subsidiary title Earl Jermyn) and Bristol Arcade (after the old Bristol Arms hotel).[311]

Other Sleafordians entered careers in law and politics. The local Handley family were well-connected with business in the area; Benjamin Handley (1754–1828) was a local lawyer, prominent in the Navigation Company and a partner in the local banking firm Peacock, Handley and Kirton.[312] His son, Henry (died 1846) was a member of parliament for South Lincolnshire; after his death, the town's residents erected a large monument to him on Southgate.[313] Another notable politician to come from the town was Robert Armstrong Yerburgh (1853–1916), the son of Rev. Richard Yerburgh, vicar of New Sleaford, he born in Sleaford and was twice Member of Parliament for Chester.[314] Sir Thomas Meres (died 1715), politician and member of Parliament for Lincoln, was born in Lincoln and educated at the Grammar School.[315] Lastly, Sir Robert Pattinson (1872–1954), was also educated at the Grammar School in the 1880s, and later became Chair of the Kesteven County Council and Member of Parliament for Grantham and Sleaford.[316]

The religious controversialist Henry Pickworth (died c. 1738) was born at New Sleaford and challenged the opponent of Quakerism Francis Bugg to an open debate on the matter at Sleaford.[317] John Austin (1613–1669), a religious writer, was educated at the Grammar School.[318] Several notable non-conformist ministers are connected with the town. William Scoffin (1654x5–1732) served as a Presbyterian minister at the town and preached there for over forty years,[319] while Benjamin Fawcett (1715–1780), Presbyterian minister, was born and educated at Sleaford.[320] Andrew Kippis (born 1725), the Presbyterian minister, biographer and Fellow of the Royal Society, attended the Grammar School.[321]

In the sciences, Richard Banister (c. 1570–1626), the oculist, practised for 14 years in Sleaford and trained in couching cataracts there.[322] Henry Andrews (1744–1820), astronomer and astrologer, worked for a period in Sleaford during his youth.[323] Eleanor Cowie Mears (1917–1992), medical practitioner and campaigner, retired to 71 London Road, Sleaford in 1977 and she remained in the town until her death.[324] Cecil Rhodes (1853–1902), the explorer, politician and entrepreneur, spent part of his boyhood as a regular visitor of the Manor House, Northgate, where his aunt, Sophia Peacock, lived; it was while staying with her that he learnt to ride.[325]

In arts, the royalist poet Thomas Shipman (1632–80) was educated at Carre's Grammar School, as was the novelist Henry Jackson (1831–1879);[321][326] Joseph Smedley (1784–1863), the actor and comedian, performed at the town and built the theatre in 1824, before settling in the town in 1842, establishing a printing business and dying in North Street;[327] and Charles Haslewood Shannon (1863–1937), the artist, was born in the town.[328] Frances Brooke (died 1789), the novelist, essayist and playwright, died at her clergyman son's house in Sleaford.[329] The actress and comedian Jennifer Saunders (born 1958) was born in Sleaford.[330] In popular culture, the singer Lois Wilkinson (born 1944), one part of the duo group The Caravelles, was born in the town;[331] glamour model Abi Titmuss grew up in nearby Ruskington and was educated at Kesteven and Sleaford High School;[332] and Bernie Taupin (born 1950), Elton John's songwriter, was born in the town.[333] The actor Eric Thompson (1929–1982), who narrated The Magic Roundabout television series, was born in a house on Jermyn Street.[334] In sport, the professional footballer Mark Wallington (born 1952), who played for Leicester City, Derby County and Lincoln City, grew up in Sleaford and, after he retired from playing the sport professionally, he taught Physical Education at St George's Academy.[335]


Sleaford Urban District Council was officially granted a coat of arms on 26 October 1950; after the council was abolished, The Local Authorities (Armorial Bearings) Order 1975 allowed for the arms to be borne by its successor, Sleaford Town Council. The arms are blazoned: Gules on a Chevron Or three Estoiles Sable on a Chief Argent as many Trefoils slipped Vert. The trefoils in the chief are taken from the arms used by the Marquess or Bristol, while the lower portion of the shield is the arms of the Carre family. Its crest is blazoned: On a Wreath of the Colours an Eagle wings extended and head downwards and to the sinister proper holding in the beak an Ear of Wheat stalked and leaved Or, where the eagle symbolises Sleaford's close links with the Royal Air Force and the ear of wheat represents the importance of agriculture in the town's history and economy.[336][337][338]


Town twinning started in Europe after the Second World War. Its purpose was to promote friendship and greater understanding between the people of different European cities. A twinning link is a formal, long-term friendship agreement involving co-operation between two communities in different countries and endorsed by both local authorities. The two communities organise projects and activities around a range of issues and develop an understanding of historical, cultural, lifestyle similarities and differences.

The Sleaford and District Town Twinning Association is responsible for this process and maintaining links; founded in 1999, it coordinates annual visits with its twin towns, the following municipalities:[339]



  1. ^ Much of the gold and bronze found in the cemetery was deposited in the British Museum after it was uncovered in the 1880s by excavator George Thomas.[30]
  2. ^ It was previously sold by the Bishops of Lincoln to Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset and reverted to the crown on his attainder in 1549; Queen Mary I later sold it to Edward Clinton, 1st Earl of Lincoln.[51]
  3. ^ Bricks could also be transported more easily, which contributed to the construction of new buildings on West Banks, Grantham Road and London Road (Ellis (ed.) Mid-Victorian Sleaford, p. 87). For a thorough account of the development of West Banks and adjoining roads (Castle Street, Albert Terrace, Martin's Court, Slea Cottages and Watergate) see W. and M. Stoud "A comparison of the 1851 and 1871 Census returns for the area formerly known as 'The Tofts'" in Mid-Victorian Sleaford: 1851–1871 pp. 51–65. Station Road and Nag's Head Passage were also developed in this period (Ellis (ed.) Mid Victorian Sleaford, pp. 68–69).
  4. ^ The principle buildings being: Sessions House (1831), the Grammar School (1834), Carre's Hospital (1830–1846), the Gasworks (1839), Navigation House (1838–39), much of Eastgate (including the Alvey School in 1850, and Kingston and Lafford Terraces in 1856 and 1857), the Cemetery (1856) and the Corn Exchange (1857)
  5. ^ Playhouse Yard, Charles Street, Leicester Street and Cabbage Row being four main examples.[77]
  6. ^ Sleaford Poor Law Union consisted of the following parishes: Anwick, Asgarby, Ashby de la Launde, Aswarby, Aunsby, Byard's Leap (1861–1930), Billinghay, Blankney, Bloxholm, Brauncewell, Burton Pedwardine, Cranwell, Culverthorpe, Dembleby, Digby, Dogdyke (c. 1894–1930), Dorrington, Evedon, Ewerby, Great Hale, Little Hale, Haverholme Priory (1861–1930), Heckington, Helpringham, Holdingham, Howell, Kelby, Kirkby Green, Kirkby la Thrope, North Kyme, South Kyme, Leadenham, Leasingham, Martin, Newton, Osbournby, Quarrington, North Rauceby, South Rauceby, Rowston, Roxholm, Ruskington, Scredington, Scopwick, New Sleaford, Old Sleaford, Spanby, Swarby, Swaton, Temple Bruer with Temple High Grange (1861–1930), Thorpe Tillney, Threckingham, Timberland, Walcot (near Billinghay), Walcot (near Folkingham), Welbourn, Wellingore, Scott Willoughby, Silk Willoughby, Wilsford.[103]
  7. ^ Proposals to link Sleaford to Ancaster (for transporting stone) in 1827 did not materialise; works by the Ambergate Company in the 1840s should have extended to reach Sleaford, but they stopped at Grantham in 1850, while opposition from the Navigation Company to another proposal further delayed railway links to the town.[155]
  8. ^ This is the sum total of the Census wards covering Sleaford; they vary at each Census (see citations for each year).
  9. ^ After his death, Cornelius Greenwood wrote and published a biography of him, entitled A short account of the late Mr. Thomas Fawcett : to which is added, the rise and progress of Methodism in Sleaford (1839). The work was listed in the Proceedings of the Wesley Historical Society 1:1 (1896) p. 12 and has an OCLC number of 28682597.


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Further reading[edit]

  • Brock, D. (1984). "The Competition for the Design of Sleaford Sessions House, 1828", Architectural History, vol. 27, pp. 344–355
  • Fawcett, T. (1902). A History of the Free Churches of Sleaford from 1662 to 1902 (Sleaford: Geo. G. Fawcett). OCLC 55110324
  • Pawley, S. (1992). "Democracy and proper drains: public health and landed influence in late nineteenth century Sleaford", Lincolnshire Past and Present, no. 7. (Society for Lincolnshire History and Archaeology)
  • Pawley, S., Peach, A. (1996). "Kirk and Parry", Lincolnshire Past and Present, no. 24 (Society for Lincolnshire History and Archaeology)

External links[edit]